Smiling Sri Lanka captain Karunaratne targets historic South Africa Test series win

Sudhir Gupta 21:12 20/02/2019
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Kusal Perera (r) scored an all-time great Test ton to help Sri Lanka win the Durban Test by one wicket.

Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne on Wednesday asked his players to ‘play with a smile’ as they aim to become the first Asian team to win a Test series in South Africa.

Sri Lanka enter the second Test in Port Elizabeth on Thursday with an unbeatable 1-0 lead in the two-match series after a sensational unbeaten 153 from Kusal Perera took them to a one-wicket win in the first in Durban.

“We came here to win matches,” Karunaratne, who got the captaincy after Dinesh Chandimal was dropped after the series defeat in Australia last month, was quoted as saying by AFP.

“I just want to make sure the boys give their maximum each day. We have to keep our heads clear and play positively.

“We want to enjoy ourselves. You will see with our boys when they are playing they are smiling and cheering each other. If you are enjoying yourself you will play well.”

Karunaratne said wickets in Durban and those expected in Port Elizabeth were “much easier” than the ones his team encountered in Australia.

Meanwhile, South African captain Faf du Plessis said his team was “highly motivated” to level the series.

“We were in control for most of the (first) Test, then something brilliant took it away from us,” Faf said of Perera’s innings.

“The disappointing thing with a short series is that you only play two matches so for us it is making sure we square up the series.”

“The pitch (for second Test) looks pretty similar to what we played on against Australia and Sri Lanka in our last two Test matches. Hopefully there will be some assistance for our seamers. We are not expecting a lot of pace and bounce so we’re just hoping there will be decent carry.”

Du Plessis added Sri Lanka’s new look attack which includes Vishwa Fernando and Lasith Embuldeniya  brought “an element of the unknown and a surprise factor”.

“There has already been a bit of chat to make sure we play the new guys better,” he said.

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